Friday, August 1, 2008

A New War with One Ship and Shapes... The Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 Review

No one expected Geometry Wars to become a gaming phenomenon back when the first one was released on Xbox Live Arcade when the 360 launched. Now after a Wii / DS release of Galaxies, Geometry Wars returns to its stomping grounds on XBLA with Retro Evolved 2 and it is still an amazing experience of one ship taking on various shapes, surviving wave after wave of enemies, and getting the highest score possible to show off to your friends. This is Geometry Wars at its finest and with six different modes, local multiplayer, and in your face twin stick shooting. This rebooted the arcade shooter as a genre that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Everything about Retro Evolved 2 feels truly special and a great kickoff to the 360's Summer of Arcade.

Retro Evolved 2 can also be said as Retro Evolved on steroids because this XBLA release is packed with different modes that put a different spin on the twin stick shooting that Geometry Wars had resurrected. At the start of the game, Deadline is the only mode playable, as you play more of a certain mode, the next one will be unlocked, which is pretty easy. Deadline is a three minute mode of trying to get the highest score possible with unlimited lives and increasing bombs. This mode can get hectic in the later minutes and also if you're doing well. King is an unique mode that you can only fire in a circle that changes color once you're on it and it is there for a limited time before moving on to another circle. Evolved is the first game all over again with three lives and three bombs at the start getting the highest score possible as the difficulty ramps up better than the original. Pacifism, a personal favorite, is another unique mode involving your ship not firing at all and the only way to defeat the blue diamonds is going through small gates to cause a chain reaction. Waves is a never ending assault of the arrow enemies moving on one side to the other, which was playable in Project Gotham Racing 4. Sequence is the ultimate endurance test for Geometry Wars of trying to survive for 30 stages of huge waves of enemies. All of these modes are equally as fun and addicting going for high scores competing against your friends.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2's new multiplier system is way better and less frustrating than it was in the original as you collect small yellow things called geoms to increase the multiplier to the hundreds and perhaps the thousands, which is why huge high scores of the ten millions and even a billion can be reached. It is also a good thing when dying didn't lose your multipler, which makes the game easier for higher scores. Other than the six modes, there is local multiplayer in Retro Evolved 2 where up to four players can play together in all these modes on one screen. The insanity of multiplayer does elevate to 14 when too much is going on especially for smaller TVs, so a bigger TV is recommended for a better multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, there is no online co-op, but for a game like this, it is understandable since any sense of lag may ruin the game completely and slowdown may make it unplayable. At least some sort of multiplayer is in Retro Evolved 2, but online play would be icing on the cake for next time.

The graphics and sound for this sequel is way better than the original. Graphically, the shapes, colorful effects, and explosions just naturally look better. There is also no sense of slowdown at all when playing any of the modes, which is truly remarkable when so many enemies are trying to kill you. The music and sound is also something special to note of as well. All six modes have a different track that is played and your performance also affects the music, which is cool like you die the music gets toned down and then goes back up to loud insanity. Another example is in King when firing in the circles, the music picks up, but leaving them causes the music to tone down. In addition, the tracks themselves are great to listen to when playing, but there are custom soundtracks if you're tired of them.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 is such a special Live Arcade game improving the original on every aspect with the new multiplier system and unique modes like King and Pacifism. The online leaderboards and achievements also make you have the drive to keep trying for a better score than your friends, which will get addicting. I'm also a fan of the achievement progress idea they added in when going for certain achievements like Rebound, Wax Off, and Treaty, where it tracks how much more you have to do to get that achievement during the game. The graphics and sound have also significantly improved, especially how Bizarre, the developers, handled the music for this game. The original is still a landmark game that people played till this release as this sequel just allows for infinite replay value of pure fun and the best twin stick shooting on Xbox Live Arcade. For 800 Microsoft Points, or ten bucks, this game is among the best Arcade games out on this service, and you are doing a disservice if you don't buy this game.

Score = 9/10


  • Gameplay significantly improved with new multiplier system
  • Six great modes that don't get boring (Pacifism as a personal favorite).
  • Amazing graphics and sound
  • Infinite replay value going for high scores competing against your Live friends.
  • Local multiplayer / co-op


  • No online co-op, but it is understandable.
  • A disservice if you don't buy this game on XBLA.

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